When unplanned circumstances happen, are you prepared to handle what business planners call, “the immediate?” It references the very first action, or the first action in a series of corrections, to right the situation and get your operation back on track.
Owners and managers with solid business plans and excellent employee training have planned for and begin the correction process with few complications. Establishing these steps requires time and research, but once in place may save valuable moments in a crisis situation.
To begin, you will want to review each step in your production to sales operation to identify vulnerabilities. Then ask the “what if” questions: If planting is late, how will it impact delivery to your various outlets? If transportation becomes a problem, have you arranged for alternatives? If employees are absent, what is your back-up plan for additional workers? If a key piece of equipment breaks down how will you operate efficiently?
This is not meant to merely focus on what can go wrong, but to plan for, and put in motion, actions that keep operations flowing even in difficult times. By exploring each segment of your operation, you and your employees can pinpoint trouble spots and research how to handle those situations if they arise.
By engaging employees in these discussions, often you get the front line perspective. An employee doing a specific job has probably already worked out alternative strategies in case of problems. Their input is valuable in planning how to work through situations and keep operations flowing. Training new employees to look for these signals and to think through potential problems gives them the opportunity to think past just the task itself. They truly can be an important part of your team by developing ideas to succeed.
Many managers plan for big operational glitches, but do not always think about the more mundane problems that can be just as troublesome. Waiting for a part to fix equipment, transportation delays, packaging problems and absenteeism can cause delays and departures from normal operations. While you may not have a timely solution for each particular problem, developing an overall sense of what to do and what resources to tap into gives you an edge when immediate issues pop up.
Business and risk management planners suggest meeting with your staff to discuss your operation and ways to proactively confront problems. Then with each situation presented, outline steps to immediately begin the correction process. Include these steps into your business and operating plan and make sure managers and workers all know how to put these into action. Each person’s level of action will depend on given assignments and supervision, but each should know whom to call or contact and when actions are appropriate to report.
Advance crisis research and planning requires “think time” and actions, but in the long run it may save you valuable moments when they really count. For additional information on crisis management and risk strategies contact your local Small Business Administration office at: www.sba.gov/tools/local-assistance/score or www.ers.usda.gov key word – risk management.
The above information is provided for educational purposes only and should not be substituted for professional business or legal counseling.